book review

An Outstanding Companion | The Wickerlight by Mary Watson

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Wickerlight by Mary Watson

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Publication Date: 11/26/19
Pages: 416
Source: publisher in exchange for honest review

It's been two months since Laila was found lifeless on Kilshamble village green, not a mark on her. Rumour says she died of an overdose. Or maybe it was suicide? The autopsy found nothing, but somebody must know what happened. Now Laila's sister Zara is ready to pick up the trail. But retracing her sister's footsteps takes her to David, a Judge at the dangerous heart of an ancient magical feud. All too unwittingly, she begins to tread the same path that led her sister to the village green . Mary Watson's sequel to The Wren Hunt is an eerie, magical thriller about a dead girl, her sister and the boy who can unlock the truth of what happened the night she died.
Zara knows that despite her sister’s death being ruled an overdose, it was just too suspicious to accept it as such. Zara retraces her sister’s steps and finds herself caught between two worlds. David, the next door neighbor, is determined to keep her out of this but he’s also got his own stuff to deal with like his father’s expectations to uphold, finding a lost ceremonial piece, and helping his brother out. Yet Zara unknowingly unleashes a power that could change everything. The Wickerlight is the companion novel to Mary Watson’s The Wren Hunt; it captured readers with her world building, witty characters, and atmospheric setting.

  • The Wickerlight follows David and Zara. It alternates their perspectives between chapters which is at first jarring since I wasn’t expecting two narratives. However, their narratives are very different though it took a while for them to overlap. 
  • I recommend reading The Wren Hunt before reading The Wickerlight. Wren makes a few appearances in this one as this companion novel takes place during some of the events of The Wren Hunt
  • Readers met David in The Wren Hunt. I had so many questions about him so I'm glad Mary Watson developed his character more in this one. He wasn’t what I expected. I thought he was rather rude, blunt and sort of a bully in The Wren Hunt but knew that there was more to his story than what we initially received. David cares so much for his brother. Their relationship seems so fragile but there’s a strong bond underneath that will make your heart melt. His ambition and his willingness to do whatever it takes for his family is commendable but does put him in some precarious situations. 
  • Just like The Wren Hunt, Watson brings her incredible writing expertise to the table. She whisks readers away to an atmospheric novel with magic, dark settings and unfolding mysteries. Watson creates such a realistic world with her elaborate descriptions. Her characters felt so real, developed so delicately. Family plays a big part in her characters. Their dynamic, all different yet so relatable, made these people as real as you and me.
  • Zara, still grieving from her sister’s death, knows that Laila, her sister, did not die from an overdose. She tries to understand her and becomes tangled in an unbelievable world she never knew existed. She’s strong and relentless. It was easy to connect with Zara as she was learning about this magic system while readers are also learning more about it. 
  • As we learned in the previous book, there are two sides that always seem to be at war with one another, the Judges and the Augurs. Zara, a newcomer, stumbles upon this knowledge when discovering more about what happened to her sister. It’s part fantastical and part mystery. Readers are swept up in the clues that Watson reveals, guessing what truly happened. The twists and turns happen at the best places, immersing readers further into the story.
  • The ending was everything I could hope for and more. The only problem was that it ended. I hope another installment in underway. There are so many questions that could be answered and other paths to follow. 
The Wickerlight was a glorious companion to The Wren Hunt. It was atmospheric and magical, a novel that will have you on the edge of your seat. 

The Wren Hunt (11/6/18): 5 stars
The Wickerlight (11/26/19): 5 stars

Tackling my TBR

Tackling My TBR: December 2019

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Tackling My TBR is a monthly post, where I share my reading plans for the upcoming month. Since it’s the last month of the year, I’ve decided to put my TBR jar aside for the moment (until next year!) and try to get to some books I’ve been meaning to read. I’ve picked out a total of 11 books that I hope to read this month.

Holiday Reads

This is probably the first December ever that I have more than one holiday book to read. I don’t necessarily seek out holiday books but I acquired a few this year and decided to leave them until this month to read them. Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa De La Cruz is at the top of the list since it also became a Hallmark movie last year and I’m hoping to catch it on TV after I read the book. The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand sounds so different, it’s a unique take on The Christmas Carol and I can’t wait to see how Hand flips the story upside down. And Carols and Chaos by Cindy Anstey is just a book I picked up on a whim. It doesn’t seem to have the best reviews on Goodreads but I’m going to give it a try.

For Review

I’m running a little behind on my review copies since I went on vacation last month. The Wickerlight by Mary Watson, the companion to last year’s The Wren Hunt, released on November 26th. I can report, however, since I’m currently reading it: The Wickerlight is fantastic and you need to read it! Next up will be Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen (12/3/19) which is a historical novel that follows a Jane Austen fan. This one just sounds so cool! And while I am playing catch up on these ARCs, I might as well get ahead with Night Spinner by Addie Thorley (2/11/20) which is a retelling of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It’s going to be epic!

Continuing and Finishing Series

I made it one of my annual goals that I have to finish 12 book series a year. I’ve finished quite a few but I don’t think I’m up to my usual amount of series completed. Therefore, I have some series finales to complete the year off: The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick, and Deadly Little Lessons by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Plus, I’ve been reading a book from the Morganville Vampires series each month and I hope to continue that trend with reading the 14th book, Fall of Night by Rachel Caine. Then I will be on track to finish the series in January. Also, I promised myself this year that I’d continue the Stalking Jack the Ripper books with reading Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco.

What are planning on reading this month?

kickin' it

Kickin' It: November 2019 Wrap Up

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

November was so busy! I spent most of it away on vacation. As much as I packed a few books, there never seemed to be enough time to take them out and get to them. I did a trip with my family; we went out west to Utah, Nevada, and California. Then I had a few days at home before leaving for a lovely trip to Disney World and Sea World. It was great, I had loads of fun! However, I did not get much reading done. Totaling the month with only 6 books read, that’s my lowest reading month yet. Here’s what I read:

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell (3 stars): I’ve been thinking about dropping this one down to a 2 star. I was expecting a fun cooking memoir and what I received was more of a whiny narrative of a person who cooks a lot. I probably would have enjoyed reading Julie’s blog more but her journey through The Art of French Cooking cookbook in novel form just doesn’t work as well.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (3 stars): The premise was really cool but I found the story itself to be lacking. The protagonist felt a bit flat. This book just wasn’t for me.

Fullmetal Alchemist (vol. 19, 20, 21) by Hiromu Arakawa (4 stars): I probably should have read the books first before watching the anime since I know, for the most part, where the book will go from here. However, I’m having a blast reading through the series. If you’re looking for a great manga to read, definitely check out Fullmetal Alchemist.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (4 stars): Mystery isn’t really my thing but mystery written by Maureen Johnson—or anything written by Maureen Johnson—is definitely right up my alley.

Refraction by Naomi Hughes (5 stars): This may be one of my favorites of the year, which is so strange for me to say since it’s a science fiction novel. Sci-fi isn’t really my thing but Refraction was so fast paced with lots of outstanding twists. I can’t wait to reread it!

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams (4 stars): I’ve been waiting for this one to come out! It was about a group of guys who start a book club to get romance pointers in the books they read. The premise was super cute and there were some great moments in the story as well. It was a fun, summer read that had a few laugh out loud moments!

Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen (12/3/19): This is a historical novel that follows a Jane Austen fan who turns to Austen’s work in order to help navigate her own life. Cohen had me at Jane Austen, I can’t wait to start this one!

Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters (12/3/19): Evie is an assistant at a screenwriting agency, where she must help a struggling writer through his romantic comedy screenplay. This debut sounds adorable!

What amazing books did you read this month? Did you watch any good movies or shows?

book review

Mashup of Mirrors and The Mist | Refraction by Naomi Hughes

Monday, December 02, 2019

Refraction by Naomi Hughes

Publisher: Page Street Kids
Publication Date: 11/5/19
Pages: 320
Source: publisher in exchange for honest review
After an attack on earth, all reflective surfaces become weapons to release monsters, causing a planet-wide ban on mirrors. Despite the danger, the demand rises, and 17-year-old Marty Callahan becomes a distributor in an illegal mirror trade―until he’s caught by the mayor's son, whose slate is far from clean. Both of them are exiled for their crimes to one of the many abandoned cities overrun by fog. But they soon realize their thoughts influence their surroundings and their deepest fears begin to manifest. With fast pacing and riveting characters, this is a book that you’ll finish in one sitting.
Months ago, the Beings invaded the Earth. They rose up out of mirrors, any reflective surfaces, and quickly became everyone’s worst nightmare. Fog shrouded the land and the only parcel of property that was saved from the invasion were a few select cities, including the island that Marty resides on. His one goal is to work to get off the island, to be reunited with his brother who lives an ocean away (or he did, before the invasion). Marty sells black market goods, mainly mirrors in hopes of buying passage off the island. However, when he is caught and exiled, Marty discovers that the invasion is not what it seems. He has two options: save himself or save the world and he’s really not sure which he’ll choose. Refraction is a mind-blowing adventure that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

  • Like with most books, I went in knowing very little. Before reading, I read the tagline on the back about the darkness coming out of the mirrors and killing loads of people. That sounded similar to one of my favorite horror movies of all time, Mirrors, so I knew I had to read this one. As much as I would have loved a book that just featured monsters coming out of mirrors, Refraction takes it several steps further. The world building becomes so convoluted that readers truly have to suspend their disbelief. Monsters coming out of mirrors becomes an alien takeover that reside in fog and reflective surfaces. It sounds like a mashup between both Mirrors and The Mist
  • It's not a secret that I rarely read science fiction. Books about aliens and space travel are just not for me. And if you had told me Refraction was about aliens making first contact, I probably would have never picked it up. However, despite having aliens, Refraction is a gem. I didn’t want the book to end, it was so good! Since the story is so fast paced, it is easy to finish the book in one sitting. Yet, all I wanted to do was drag it out as long as possible, to continue being in the world that Naomi Hughes created for just a little longer. The plot is absolutely marvelous. It is so unique, creating a page turner you've never experienced before. At first you think the story is going one way but then it flips upside down and completely throws you. It’s genius.
  • The writing is phenomenal. Hughes shines through her fantastic action scenes that read like a Hollywood blockbuster. I can't wait to read more from her!
  • Refraction follows Marty, a black-market dealer, selling reflective goods, and also struggling with his OCD. He is a good guy and it didn’t take much for readers to fall for him, even if the island had him pegged as a criminal. Right off, his motives and his actions speak so loudly that readers are immediately interested in knowing more and watching him grow from page one.
  • Diversity is rather rare in the science fiction genre so it was such a great surprise to find own voices OCD representation in Refraction
  • Refraction is a high stakes adventure that gets your heart pumping full speed. When it isn’t throwing so many action sequences at you that you think you might faint (you know, in a good way), it focuses on family and friendship. The bond between brothers is extremely strong in the book. The way each character is willing to do anything for their brother will connect with a lot of people. It is so precious; it just melts your heart. 
  • I want to say that the ending felt rushed but that's not entirely true. I just didn’t want the book to end so any ending felt too soon for me. The writing, the action, the story: everything worked together so seamlessly. I loved it all!

Refraction by Naomi Hughes is a wild rollercoaster of corkscrews and loop de loops. The story, through suspending your disbelief a bit, does work out amazingly in the end. The action sequences are phenomenal. Coupled with fantastic writing and great own voices representation, Refraction needs to be the next book on your to read list.

kickin' it

Kickin' It: October 2019 Wrap Up

Friday, November 01, 2019

October was a good in between month. I didn’t have too much going on this month. September was my birthday month and I was surrounded by social outings. For November, I am going on vacation for a bit so my amount of reading is probably going to drop dramatically. So, in between month October, was the perfect month to get all those fall books finished. I participated in Spookathon and read a bunch of spooky books. Overall, I finished 14 books which is absolutely crazy to me, considering I read the longest book of the year this month too (about 720 pages!). Here’s what I read this month:

The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister (3.5 stars): I adore books that have magicians and magic in them. So, I went into this with high expectations. This was my first novel I read by Macallister and as much as I loved her writing, the story wasn’t that enticing.

Maximum Ride Forever by James Patterson (2 stars): I was cringing the whole time but at this point, I just wanted to finish the series. This book was completely unnecessary. 

The Steel Prince by V.E. Schwab (3 stars): It’s not a secret that I loved the Darker Shades of Magic series so I was so excited to hear about this spin-off graphic novel series that follows Maxim, the King. It was a solid first book but I didn’t care for the art, the shading seemed a bit off.

The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston (4 stars): This is the companion to Geekerella that I definitely needed in my life. It’s a retelling of the Prince and the Pauper. It was absolutely magical. And everything about it was precious and lovely. It was so good!

Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz (4 stars): I was very hesitant to start this since I saw Stolarz herself rated it 1 star on Goodreads (she has since removed the rating, so maybe it was a mistake). However, I really enjoyed this one. Shutter follows a girl who unknowingly photographs a runaway criminal, and things spiral from there. Stolarz is one of my favorite authors of all time so I’m happy to say that Shutter did not disappoint.

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi (5 stars): So it’s been a good five years since I read the first book, Shatter Me. And it’s been a goal of mine to try and continue in the series and finally this month, I decided to give the sequel a try. And I loved it! Also, I distinctly remembering being hardcore Team Adam in the first book but I think I may be changing my tune and leaning more towards Team Warner.

Bitter Blood by Rachel Caine (4 stars): This was such a great installment in the series! It’s book 13 of the Morganville Vampire series and I am slowing making my way through it. Hopefully, by the end of the year, I’ll be finished with all the books. Bitter Blood just gave me a big kick in the feels. It was heartwrenching and you get to see a side of characters, we haven’t yet seen which was fun.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (4 stars): I’ve been trying to read this one for a while but it’s so huge and the font is so small that I never get past 50 pages. Well, this time I powered through and I am so happy I did. It was so worth it. This book isn’t just a book, it’s an immersive experience between the layers of stories, including the pictures, interviews, experimental prose, and more. I highly recommend. Plus, it’s perfect for this spooky time of year.

Blackbird by Anna Carey (2.5 stars): I liked Anna Carey’s other series, Eve, so for the Spookathon, I decided to give this a go since it was super short. It had a lot of potential and it did catch my interest a few times. However, it was in second person which really stole from the entire flow of the book. It was jarring. So much so, that I even tried the audiobook to see if it was better that way and the whole second person perspective just wasn’t for me.

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar (2 stars): I primarily picked this up because of the gorgeous cover and lovely end pages. However, what I found inside was an extremely slow story that could have been 100 less pages. The writing was fine but the plot just wasn’t for me.

The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige (4 stars): Dorothy Must Die was my favorite book I read last month so I was hoping to find another favorite with the sequel. Instead, it was okay but it read like a sequel which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (3 stars): I finally read a solo Adam Silvera book (I read his collaboration book with Becky Albertalli in the beginning of the year, What If It's Us). This one hurt my heart; it was absolutely heartbreaking in the best way possible. I thought it was a bit slow at times which is why I rated it a little lower. However, I did appreciate the writing and the gorgeous story. I’m looking forward to reading some more of his work.

The Fledgling Handbook 101 by P.C. Cast and Kim Doner (3 stars): I finished the House of Night series a month or two ago and I had this on my shelf still. It was pretty small and had pictures so I decided to kick off the Spookathon Readathon with this. It took me about an hour or two to complete it and it was fine. If you’re a fan of the series, this is a nice addition for your shelf.

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood (3 stars): Witches in books are not really my thing anymore. However, I was keeping this around because I loved how well the colors on the cover worked together. It turned out to be a good book. I didn’t expect it to be in the historical genre so that was surprise. And where most witch books deal with newfound powers, Born Wicked actually focuses on this family of witches who’ve known they were witches for a while and must conceal their powers from the outside world. It was a different take on witches that I haven’t read about before. However, I don’t think I’ll be continuing in the rest of the series.

Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater (11/5/19): Finally! We will have the Ronan spin-off in our hands! I loved Ronan in The Raven Cycle and always wished to know more about him. I have such high expectations.

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White (11/5/19): It’s a new series from Kiersten White! I cannot wait! Plus, it’s a retelling of King Arthur. I absolutely loved her Paranormalcy series, and as much as I adored her writing in And I Darken, I didn’t quite love the story. However, I am ready to give this one a try. Plus, that cover, so gorgeous!

The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness by Susannah Cahalan (11/5/19): I’ve been low key wanting to read her other book, Brain on Fire, and just haven’t gotten the chance to yet. However, this one sounds even more incredible. It’s about a study that sent several healthy individuals to mental hospitals, where they had to prove their sanity to be released. I rarely read nonfiction but this sounds so promising, I may give it a try.

This month, I rented a few movies and started some new television shows. I made sure to rewatch Zombieland so I could go see the sequel, Zombieland Double Tap. It was comedic and entertaining. I like the first one better but that’s usually how sequels work. Also, I was able to rent some movies from the library: Toy Story 4 and Yesterday. Toy Story 4 is probably my least favorite Toy Story yet but there were definitely some tear jerk moments. Yesterday was a bit slow but interesting nonetheless. Mr. Robot finally rejoined television in its final season. And I started watching Nancy Drew, a new show on the CW. I’m a big fan of the Nancy Drew PC games so I was looking forward to loving the show. After giving three episodes a try, I don’t think I will be continuing. Somewhere along the lines, they lost the vibes from the original content. Overall, a solid watching month!

Toy Story 4 Disney GIF

What amazing books did you read this month? Did you watch any good movies or shows?